Wesley John Lembcke, 86, died Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 at his home in Curlew.
John, a life-long resident of the Curlew area, was born in Grand Forks, British Columbia, on March 27, 1926, to Henry and Faye Lembcke. John spent his childhood on Long Alec Creek, helping his father and brothers log and operate their steam-powered sawmill. He attended the Curlew School through the eighth grade, walking six miles one way (all uphill, of course) to get there, or driving in a Model T Ford that didn’t have any steering.
John enlisted in the U.S. Army when he was seventeen and was promptly sent to Europe to fight in World War II. John was a motor sergeant serving with Company “A” 97th Signal Corps stationed in Munich, Germany. John’s service was honored with receipt of the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Occupation Medal, and the Victory Medal. John enjoyed reminiscing about the war, working on his war scrapbook, and sharing his photographs.
Upon returning from Europe, John married LaRue Howell in August 1947 and they raised four boys – Jack, Larry, Ken, and Kevin. John and his brother, Richard, took ownership of the sawmill on Long Alec Creek and operated it until 1963. After closing the mill, John and Richard continued to log the family property well into their seventies. The mill has been reconstructed as a historical exhibit at the Husky Car and Truck Museum south of Curlew. John also spent several years as foreman for the Ferry County Road Department.
John was an active volunteer in his community. He enjoyed giving tours of the Ansorage Hotel as a member of the Kettle River History Club, taking care of the pumps and wells for the Curlew Water District, and assisting the Curlew Cemetery Association. John could often be seen driving his Model T Ford “Lil’ Vic” around town and could always be counted on to join in the Barrel Derby parade. John will be remembered for his mechanical skills and his wavy red hair.
John is survived by his sons, Jack (Donna) of Curlew, Larry (Gae) of Republic, Ken of Portland, and Kevin of Spokane; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, LaRue; his grandson, John Jacob; his brothers and sisters; and his beloved cat, Peter.
Memorial donations may be made to the Husky Car and Truck Museum (P. O. Box 272, Malo, Washington 99150) or the Kettle River History Club (P. O. Box 372, Curlew, Washington 99118).
Graveside services will be held at the Curlew Cemetery on Saturday, February 16, 2013, at 11:00 a.m. A potluck luncheon will follow at the Curlew Civic Hall.
Bergh Funeral Service is in charge of arrangements.